Project Overview

The Issues

Crop health, irrigation water supply and water quality are three interconnected issues of critical importance to the nation's multi-billion dollar green industry. Plants in poor health may be lost during a growing season, at garden centers or in the landscape. Without water, no plant can be grown, nor can existing plants survive. One solution to water shortage is the capture and reuse of runoff water for irrigation, but current practices also recycle plant pathogens that have the potential to cause significant crop losses at production facilities and negatively impact retailers, landscapers and consumers.

Goals

This project seeks to address these critical issues through the integration of systems-based, multidisciplinary research and extension activities. It promotes the adoption of water recycling irrigation systems and sustainable plant health practices implemented during production and extending to garden centers to the benefit of the ultimate consumer. Our long-term goal is to move the green industry towards greater sustainability and support consumer demands for high quality, healthy plants.

Supporting Objectives

  1. To describe new species of Phytophthora and Pythium found in irrigation systems, assess their potential risk to the health of ornamental crops and formulate recommendations on risk avoidance and mitigation that are applicable at local and national levels
  2. To develop a better understanding of the dynamics of water quality in reservoirs and formulate guidelines to assist irrigation managers in mitigating the risk of nutrient deficiency and toxicity
  3. To develop a better understanding of the interactions occurring among water quality parameters, microbial communities, and plant pathogens in the aquatic environment
  4. To apply the knowledge gained in this work to develop best management practice (BMP) protocols for mitigating the dissemination of plant pathogens through irrigation systems
  5. To evaluate the effects that the adoption of BMPs have on production costs, revenue enhancement, and associated social and environmental benefits
  6. To develop an online knowledge center on waterborne plant pathogens and irrigation water quality management and use the website to deliver information and educational programs to growers, students and other scientists in order to quickly disseminate science-based knowledge and encourage the adoption of the BMPs developed through this project.